/NAACP chief asks AG to investigate Gov Phil Bryant

NAACP chief asks AG to investigate Gov Phil Bryant

On April 7, the NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson sent a letter to U.S. attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to bring charges against those responsible for stealing federal funds intended to benefit the nation’s poorest citizens. READ MORE: Phil Bryant wanted a payout when welfare funds were transferred to Brett Favre. Johnson stated Friday that Johnson decided to proceed to request that the Department of Justice conduct a thorough investigation following the investigative reporting of Mississippi Today. It is evident that others were involved. This is the most serious federal fraud case we have ever seen in Mississippi, and perhaps one of the worst in the nation. It is possible that the former governor was involved. Federal authorities must conduct a thorough investigation to make sure that all taxpayers are compensated. In 2020, the State Auditor’s Office published a report questioning $94 million in federal grant spending by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. Six people were arrested by the office in February 2020 for allegedly stealing $4 million. However, no other suspects have been charged in this sprawling scheme. Mississippi Today’s series uncovered never-bef0re-published private conversations Bryant had with retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre and the owner of Prevacus, the company that received $2.15 million in allegedly stolen welfare funds from the state. In exchange for Favre’s assistance during his term in office, Jake Vanlandingham, Prevacus owner offered Bryant stock in that company. Bryant accepted the offer in text messages two days after he had left office. However, the arrangement was thwarted by the arrests of the state auditor, an appointee of Bryant and former campaign manager. None of the men involved in the deal have been charged with any wrongdoing. Johnson explained to Mississippi Today that what was most striking in the Mississippi Today article was the fact that the governor knew, or should have known, that the company was being funded by the state. Johnson said that Johnson knew or should have known that the company was receiving funding from the state. Johnson also stated that he received firsthand information from his text messages and emails that he was steering decisions regarding TANF funds. This raises many questions and warrants a federal investigation. There has been much more to learn about the misappropriation of federal public assistance funds totaling at least $77million. Johnson wrote that the audit report had noted that all information related to it and its findings had been referred by the U.S. Department of Justice. Johnson wrote that nearly two years later, “despite the overwhelming documentary evidence regarding fraud, forgery and abuse in the matter, DOJ had not yet launched an investigation.” White, the State Auditor, stated that his office had given all information to federal investigators. White justification for his office making the initial arrests, including John Davis, the Bryant-appointed welfare director, and Nancy New the nonprofit founder — was to stop the flow from funds from the welfare agency’s to contractors who were allegedly misusing the money. According to the Clarion Ledger, Mike Hurst, the then-U.S. attorney in Jackson, said that the local FBI and his own office did not know about the investigation into the welfare agency until the arrests. However, he stated that the “substantial experience and expertise of our offices” and the entire U.S. Department of Justice would be available to assist their colleagues in bringing fraudsters to justice. Johnson stated that “not only is it imperative for DOJ to take prompt and aggressive actions to protect Mississippi residents who were/continue to be harmed due to the wrongful acts of state officials,” but that “failure of investigation may lead to an impression that DOJ continues to look the other way when laws have been broken by white state officials, particularly when the wrongdoing is disproportionately.”
“Hames minorities.” READ MORE. Mississippi Today exposes new evidence about Phil Bryant’s involvement in the welfare scandal